More than 175 people turned out for the first ever Southwest Florida Epilepsy Awareness Walk on May 16 at Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers. The event was in support of Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida (ESSWF) offices in Naples and Fort Myers.
Twenty sponsors and in-kind donors contributed to increasing the awareness level of the agency's programs and services. The event raised $7500 for ESSWF. Speakers during the opening ceremony included executive director Kevin Lindberg, Epilepsy Services client Wanda Ferguson and community advocate and volunteer Jane Kelly. Jane has suffered seizures as a result of a brain tumor and spoke about the importance of programs like ESSWF. She has been seizure free for a year and a half. Fort Myers neurologist Dr. Lane Carlin also addressed the participants before the two mile walk and reminded the crowd how the program fulfills a very important need for patients who have very few or no other health care options.
"We really weren't sure what to expect in terms of numbers but when the event was conceived we certainly didn’t envision this large of a turnout," said executive director Kevin Lindberg. "It was very gratifying to see the epilepsy community come together like this and we look forward to the future expansion of this event," he added.
Participants enjoyed the services of a DJ from Midnight Sun Entertainment, a Zumba warm-up, face painting by Crystal Racicot, a stunning version of God Bless America from Monicke Bell and a variety of refreshments. More than 50 Girl Scouts also participated in the festivities.
The event was the brainchild of Fort Myers resident and event chair Iris Robles, a young mother with the challenges of caring for a child with epilepsy. "It is so important that more people become aware of the scope of epilepsy in our community and the assistance that is available at Epilepsy Services," she said.
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Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida
Presents Plaque to
Representative Matt Hudson
Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida executive director, Kevin Lindberg, presents a plaque of appreciation from the Florida Epilepsy Alliance to District 80 State Representative Matt Hudson, R-Naples.
Representative Hudson serves as Florida’s chairman of the health care appropriations subcommittee which helps to determine Florida Department of Health funding levels.
This year’s healthy state budget meant an increase in funding for epilepsy programs throughout the state.
ESSWFL Presented a Program on Epilepsy Awareness and First Aid for Seizures for Manatee Sheriff's Department and North Port Police Department
Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida worked with 997 Manatee Sheriff’s Department employees and 85 North Port Police Department personnel on epilepsy awareness, seizure recognition and first aid for seizures. Law enforcement personnel viewed the DVD “It Could Be Epilepsy - A Field Guide for Law Enforcement” and were presented with general information about epilepsy, different types of seizures and the how to help a person having a seizure. Manatee and North Port law enforcement personnel took a quiz after the presentation. All law enforcement employees completed the training successfully.
Cape Coral Girl Scouts
Give “Hope” and Kinship to a Three Year Old Girl with Epilepsy
Girl Scout Troops 102 and 463 are making a BIG impact because of a small girl named Greilyn. Greilyn has epilepsy and has endured over 300 seizures, her first seizure at only two weeks old rendering her legally blind. While Greilyn has a wonderful family and support system behind her, she never expected the sisterhood of girls to rally around her and her story.
Greilyn’s sister is a part of Cape Coral Girl Scout Troop 102. She shared with the girls about her sister and the troop decided to learn about epilepsy. They had a nurse come in to speak about what happens to the brain with a seizure. A volunteer of the troop also suffers from epilepsy and gave girls an emotional look at what it feels like to live with the disease. A service dog trainer came in and spoke to the girls about the process of training and how a service dog helps people with epilepsy.
They also bonded with Greilyn and were moved by her story. The girls felt a special kinship with her. They loved to see her smile and make her giggle. The girls of Troop 102 got an idea that would change Greilyn’s life… they wanted to use some money from the cookie sale to help get Greilyn a service dog, something that will immensely improve the quality of life. And the cookie campaign, “Hope for Greilyn” (Hope is the dog’s name) came to life. Troop 463 also jumped onto the campaign. They made t-shirts in purple (Greilyn’s favorite color and the color that represents Epilepsy Awareness), the cookie booths were made in purple with signs of support, pictures, and their goal to bring “Hope” to her. In the end, the girls succeeded. Troop 102 sold a whopping 17,000 boxes of cookies and were able to donate $1,000 for Hope to Greilyn. Troop 463 donated $670 of their cookie money. They had a special check presentation party to celebrate this.
Cape Coral Girl Scouts of Troops 102 and 463, and now other Girl Scouts have learned to love and appreciate those who struggle. They have learned that through their hard work, they have the ability to be a part of something that can change someone’s life to forever. This experience is certainly something they will carry with them through life.
About Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc.: Girl Scouting builds girls of Courage, Confidence and Character who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. is chartered by Girl Scouts of the USA and serves over 7,500 girls in ten counties including: Manatee, Hardee, Highlands, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry, and Collier. For more information about the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida visit www.gsgcf.org.